Blake Whyte - More Like Myself
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: April 7, 2013
Some artists just have it. A natural charisma, an inherent ability to project, convey and stun. Broadway actor Blake Whyte (Mamma Mia, Wicked) is such an individual. On his debut LP More Like Myself, he navigates a pop-soul sound that is effervescent, amiable and nothing short of stunning. Being that he is an actor by trade, there is a nod to the theatrical in his vocals, but if one can get past that, then sit down, embrace and enjoy. The robust title track is a shuffling, piano-driven slice of wide-eyed yearning, while the string-laden "Common Ground" is a supple ballad that has all the gravity and tenderness one could ask for from a heart-on-sleeve singer-songwriter. Though he balances the yin and yang of a tracklisting quite well, Whyte is arguably at his best on tearjerking ballads. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the hushed intimacy of album closer "Whirled." Equal parts stirring, centrifugal and saturnine, "Whirled" is the exact reason why Whyte just might be a factor in the Manhattan singer-songwriter crowd in the months to come.
On the contrary, "Win or Lose" is playful, effortless and optimistic. Whyte never strays from employing his emotive croon and "Win or Lose" is a fine example of the sonic terrain he mines from front to back on More Like Myself. But the real magic of the LP comes from album opener "You Don't Know Me….Sorry 'Bout It," a big-hearted, hook-laden gem that has everything a radio programmer could want. Save for a horribly corny 30-second spoken word intro, the song is titanic, uplifting and absolutely irresistible.
Whyte is not one to be pigeonholed and More Like Myself successfully straddles R&B, jazz and soul. One of the disc's attention grabbers is the R&B infused "Summer Love Soul," a honeyed duet with Celisse Henderson that has a buoyancy and brightness that seems tailor-made for summer afternoons. More nods to Whyte's pop verve emerge in Whyte is at his best when he's honest, uncompromising and autobiographical. The stark piano ballad "Daddy's Son" and the leave-it-all-on-the-table "In the Ring" are the clearest two examples of that side of Whyte. Not one to be afraid of filler, Whyte tosses out two instrumentals. The former "Love" is vernal, orchestral and only 70 seconds, while the latter "Sadie's Song" is just a tad over three minutes and has a cinematic sweep that would do well in any picture house across this fine nation.
Being that Whyte has a steady day job, the chances of More Like Myself gaining traction remain dicey. But if Whyte's acting gig ever runs dry, he could most certainly find a career as a singer-songwriter. Honest, self-aware and completely relatable, he is the entire package. Come to think of it, pop music could use a few more like him.